By Jim Walker
Signal Staff Writer
Just in time for those suffering from social isolation and depressing world news overload, comes the 94th Academy Awards (2022), honoring movies released in 2021. Accordingly, you can escape reality for three hours or, if you need the exercise, get all worked up in competition and controversies that, hopefully, aren’t life-or-death in nature.
Formal Oscar hosts will return to the program this year, and there haven’t been three of them at once since 1987. Setting what is expected to be a lively and fun mood, Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes will host the awards show, where everyone can finally let their pandemic hair down. Well, kind of, anyway.
As of this writing, this year’s Oscar show will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for most of the people in the audience — but not for its performers and presenters. The Academy will rely on testing alone for them. There’s no word on how this will affect seat-fillers performing their duty during celebrity bathroom breaks.
Face covering requirements will also vary, with some guests allowed to go maskless and others seated in tighter spots remaining masked. Supposedly, nominees and their guests will be seated in portions of the theater not requiring masks. But maybe measuring tape will be employed, and it should be very interesting to see how this all plays out.
And, in other controversy, this year the Oscars will have eight awards presented off-air. The awards for film editing, production design, sound, makeup and hairstyling, music (original score), and awards for documentary, live-action and animated short films will be presented at the ceremony before the live broadcast begins. So, the actual ceremony will begin an hour before the broadcast does. The presentation and speeches of those eight winners will be edited and featured during the three-hour live broadcast — probably while you are in the bathroom.
As you can imagine, this does not sit well with many people. In fact, rumors are that Jessica Chastain may skip the traditional red-carpet action and, instead, show her support for her “Eyes of Tammy Faye” makeup and hairstyling folks by attending that early award presentation.
No further slight is intended here to the short-sheeted eight, but space limits our coverage of the awards to the major categories. And here, at last, we can channel our predilections into healthy Hollywood controversy. Whether you’re a “West Side Story” purist, aghast at soiling your musical memories with a re-do, or you went all Sam Elliott on “Power of the Dog,” or you don’t know whether to look “Up” or down, you can sit on the edge of your sofa, Oscar ballot at the ready, and yell at the TV in the good, old-fashioned, apolitical way.
While it certainly depends on who you talk to, or whose list you consider, top contenders for Best Picture seem to be “Belfast,” “CODA” and “The Power of the Dog.” And even if “The Power of the Dog” doesn’t win Best Picture, it should win a couple categories, because it has 12 nominations, including directing and nods to its four main actors. Leading Actor front runners are Will Smith, Andrew Garfield and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Leading Actress favorites are Jessica Chastain, Olivia Colman and Penélope Cruz. However, unless you are in a pool for big money, ignore the favorites and “vote” your heart-winners. Somehow, in a cosmic sense, they will know you did. So, I hope your “bests” win.
Have fun, and enjoy things being kinda-sorta back to normal — at least until the news comes on. The 94th Academy Awards are scheduled to be held at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on Sunday, March 27. ABC will broadcast the event on television starting at 5 p.m. Pacific Time. It will also be available on many streaming services. Red Carpet action begins at 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Test your award expertise by visiting assets.cdn.watchdisneyfe. com/delta/assets/oscars/Oscars_ Ballot_2022.pdf, where you can print an Oscar ballot. Mark your choices and then cheer or kvetch as the winners are announced.
Oscar Nominations Short List
“Belfast” “CODA” “Don’t Look Up” “Drive My Car” “Dune” “King Richard” “Licorice Pizza” “Nightmare Alley” “The Power of the Dog” “West Side Story”
Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem in “Being the Ricardos” Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Power of the Dog” Andrew Garfield in “tick, tick… BOOM!” Will Smith in “King Richard” Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Actor in a Supporting Role
Ciarán Hinds in “Belfast” Troy Kotsur in “CODA” Jesse Plemons in “The Power of the Dog” J.K. Simmons in “Being the Ricardos” Kodi Smit-McPhee in “The Power of the Dog”
Actress in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” Olivia Colman in “The Lost Daughter” Penélope Cruz in “Parallel Mothers” Nicole Kidman in “Being the Ricardos” Kristen Stewart in “Spencer”
Actress in a Supporting Role
Jessie Buckley in “The Lost Daughter” Ariana DeBose in “West Side Story” Judi Dench in “Belfast” Kirsten Dunst in “The Power of the Dog” Aunjanue Ellis in “King Richard”
For the full list visit www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/2022